Getting a New York Fishing License

A Beginner’s Guide to Getting a New York Fishing License

Fishing in New York is a favorite pastime for locals and tourists alike. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or just dipping your toes into the world of fishing, you’ll need a New York State Fishing License to legally fish in the state’s freshwater bodies. This guide will help you navigate the process of getting your license, so you can start reeling in the big ones.

Who Needs A Fishing License?

If you’re 16 years or older and you’re planning to fish for freshwater fish species by angling, spearing, hooking, longbow, and tip-ups, you’ll need a fishing license. The same goes if you’re fishing for frog species by spearing, catching with the hands, or by use of a club or hook, and for freshwater baitfish for personal use.

Getting a New York Fishing License

If you’re gearing up to fish in the Empire State, you’ll need a New York State Fishing License. There are three legitimate ways to get your hands on one. You can visit an official license issuing agent, order over the phone, or order online through the official DECALS website. Beware of fraudulent websites claiming to sell NYS freshwater fishing licenses. The only legitimate method to purchase your NYS fishing license online is through the official DECALS website.

Picture this: you’re planning a weekend getaway with your friends. You’ve got your fishing gear ready, your cooler packed, and your favorite fishing spot in mind. But wait! You’ve forgotten the most important thing—your fishing license. Don’t sweat it, getting a fishing license in New York is as easy as ordering your favorite pizza. You can get it online, over the phone, or even in person. Just make sure you’re getting it from the right place to avoid falling into the trap of scam websites.

Types Of Fishing Licenses And Fees

The cost of a fishing license in New York varies depending on the type of license and the age of the angler. Here’s a breakdown of the fees:

Type of License Cost for Residents Cost for Nonresidents
Annual (valid one full year (365 days) from the date of purchase or renewal) $25 (ages 16–69), $5 (ages 70+) $50
7-day $12 $28
1-day $5 $10

But what if you’re a senior citizen, a military member, or a disabled individual? Good news! New York offers free or reduced-fee annual fishing licenses for residents who are legally blind, military members, or disabled individuals. Senior citizens aged 70 and above can also enjoy fishing for a reduced fee of $5.

Free/Reduced Fee And Lifetime Licenses

In the Empire State, fishing isn’t just a pastime—it’s a way of life. And for some, it’s even more accessible thanks to the availability of free or reduced-fee annual fishing licenses. Who qualifies for these special licenses? The list is quite inclusive, ranging from active-duty military members to full-time nonresident students attending a New York college or university.

To get your free or reduced-fee license, you’ll need to provide the required documents and proof, visit a license-issuing agent’s location, or make transactions through the online license-issuing system.

License Requirements For Border Waters

Planning to cast your line in the non-NY portion of border waters? Hold on to your fishing rod! A New York State Fishing License may not be valid in these waters. For instance, you cannot fish in Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, the St. Lawrence River, the Niagara River, or Lake Champlain without a New York State Fishing License.

Here’s a quick look at where your New York State fishing license is not valid:

Water State/Province Validity
Lake Ontario Ontario No
Lake Erie Ontario, Pennsylvania No
St. Lawrence River Ontario, Quebec No
Niagara River Ontario No
Lake Champlain Quebec No

However, your New York State fishing license is valid in the Delaware River and West Branch Delaware River (along the boundary), Greenwood Lake, and Indian Lake.

Saltwater Fishing Regulations

If the salty sea air and the thrill of catching marine species are more your style, you should know about New York’s Marine and Coastal District regulations. All anglers (16 years of age and older) fishing in New York’s Marine and Coastal District must enroll in the Recreational Marine Fishing Registry.

The Registry is not required for harvesting crabs, lobsters, whelk, or shellfish. However, a Lobster Recreational Permit is required for New York State residents to harvest lobsters.

The saltwater fishing limits and regulations were last changed on June 20, 2023, and are subject to change at any time. For example, the open season for Winter Flounder is from April 1 to May 30, with a minimum size limit of 12″ and a possession limit of 2.


Getting a New York fishing license is a straightforward process. Whether you’re a resident or a visitor, young or old, there’s a fishing license that’s right for you. So get your license, grab your gear, and get ready to enjoy the fantastic fishing opportunities that New York has to offer.

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